Bullying is one of the most traumatic things that can happen to a child. This is because childhood is such an important developmental period, and bullying can often cause physical and psychological effects that might follow them for the rest of their lives.
However, one of the things that is often overlooked in bullying situations is why the bully is targeting other students in the first place. Studies have shown that many children who are bullies have tumultuous home environments, causing them to act out in school settings. This doesn’t mean that students can’t be blamed and punished for their bullying, but it shows that the situation is more nuanced than you might think.
Regardless of if your child is being bullied or is a bully, though, it’s important to have a plan to deal with it. After all, ending bullying for good only brings peace to everyone! To help you understand which methods are most effective for ending bullying, we’ve created this guide to bullying so you can start to make a change in your school environment:
What Constitutes Bullying?
Before we go into how to stop bullying for good, it’s important to clarify what we’re referring to. Put simply, bullying typically manifests in three categories:
- Physical: Any type of physical abuse, i.e. punching or pushing
- Emotional: Causing public humiliation by spreading rumors, etc.
- Verbal: Direct insults and name-calling
Why Does Bullying Happen?
To identify how to stop bullying, it’s important to understand just which actions cause it in the first place. Like we mentioned earlier in this article, familial environments are often one of the biggest influences in children bullying others.
Here are some of the biggest familial causes of bullying:
- Domestic violence
- Aggressive discipline
- Substance abuse
- Being bullied by siblings
- Little to no relationship with parents
- Excessive pressure put on child
In many homes where bullies are raised, it’s likely that a combination of the above points are influences on their behavior in school. When learning to recognize bullying behaviors, it’s essential to also understand that bullies will often directly emulate behavior that they experience at home.
Know the Signs of Bullying
Many children who are being bullied are embarrassed about being so vulnerable. As a result, they don’t want to admit what is happening to them and usually try to hide any symptoms of bullying. However, parents can still look out for some symptoms of bullying.
For example, if your child suddenly starts having stomach aches, this can be a result of bullying. Though you might not associate physical symptoms with bullying, stomach aches (and other physical ailments such as headaches) can be the result of stress. Because bullying often causes children to undergo significant stress, physical problems can be an unexpected result of bullying.
However, by far the most important thing to watch out for with bullying is whether or not your child looks forward to going to school. Though it’s not common for many children to enjoy school at such a young age, there is a distinct difference between ambivalence and genuine fear of going to school. If your child is displaying some serious resistance in response to you urging them to go to school, perhaps there is something more sinister happening during their classes.
Now that you understand the underlying causes of bullying and some of the ways you can tell if your child is being bullied, it’s time to understand how to effectively stop bullying.
Practice an Appropriate Verbal Response
One of the best ways you can stop bullying is to encourage your child to have prepared retorts for any bullying they might experience. This is often easier said than done, though — many children are incredibly intimidated by direct confrontation, which causes them to not be as confident as they might be in other situations. One way to combat this sense of nervousness is speak to your child about appropriate responses to a bully.
Though your child might have a few choice words to say, it’s important to make sure the response they give to the bully doesen’t sink to the same level. For example, if a bully is taunting your child with expletives and other disrespectful phrases, teaching your child to have a clean, but confident response can help them get out of the situation quickly. If your child gets angry and ends up repeating an expletive in self-defense, the situation can quickly become more complicated. Bullies typically thrive off of these enabling confrontations and might even use the opportunity to get your child in trouble, only making the situation more tumultuous.
In order to make sure your child is sufficiently confident to deal with any situation, be sure to practice building their self-esteem at home. Giving them phrases to say and practicing them in fictional dialogues are effective ways for them to learn certain behaviors and not stray from them under extreme stress.
Discuss the Best Reaction
Remind your child that the bully wants them to react poorly. The bully will gain satisfaction from tears or other signs of distress, so your child should try as hard as possible to not give them their desired results.
Sometimes the best way to deal with a bully is simply to ignore them — though it might be a very difficult thing to do, it often defuses the situation and gives the bully no reason to continue bullying in the future.
Involve adults when necessary
Of course, not all bullying conflicts can be resolved by children. Though it might feel embarrassing for the victim when parents are involved, it’s important to speak with teachers or other school faculty in instances of bullying. It’s very common for schools to have staff who are trained to deal with bullies.
Teach your child to stand up for other victims
Though it might be very easy to simply walk away or be an innocent bystander when seeing someone be bullied, your child should be taught to always intervene. Many children who cheer on bullying or who don’t do anything typically act that way because of peer pressure, making it essential for as many children as possible to stand in the way of bullies. By doing this, your child can instigate peer pressure in the opposite direction, intimidating the bully into stopping.
At the end of the day, the most effective way to stop bullying is to know how to define it, know where it begins and how to counter it. By following those three steps, you’ll be able to help your child build self-confidence and subsequently be able to stand up to bullies once and for all!